Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

The calm before the storm… to ensure no grant-funding opportunity is missed

CraigMELB Author: Craig Hunter

Have you found yourself with no open grant rounds to consider?

How can you optimise your time to strengthen your grants program?

Now is the time to speak to funders.

Donor stewardship is a non-stop activity, not just at accountability and reporting time, and certainly not only when you need more money. We strongly advocate that donor engagement   is one of the most important aspects of managing a successful grants program.

So, take advantage of any ‘extra’ time you have available – and focus on funder relationships to ensure your current funders are being communicated to sufficiently, AND, your prospective funders are contacted to establish a relationship.    

How to ensure you have a solid pipeline of funding opportunitiesCraigBlog CalmBeforeStormImage

The good news is there are always funders to approach. Some funders do not like the manic rush of one deadline per year; they are open to your Expression of Interest (EOI) at any time.

There are many funders who consider funding projects all year round. Some meet once per quarter to consider all the EOIs they have received, others every month, and some will consider your application as soon as they receive it.

Tips to ensure you are ready for the storm - responding to EOI opportunities  

Maintain a Grants Calendar

Ensure no funding opportunity is missed by maintaining a Grants Calendar. The GEM Portal has everything you need. Our team of researchers update the GEM Portal daily. It is customised to your organisations’ needs, contains all grant resources including PAFs’, PuAFs’, Philanthropic Trusts and Foundations, Local, State and Federal Government Grants and Tenders; Corporate Foundations, Health and Medical Research Funders and International Funders that give to Australian and New Zealand based organisations. Every stage of the funding opportunity from EOI, to the full application is included, to ensure no funding opportunity is missed.

Have a Grant-Ready project

Ideas are easy; grant-ready projects take time and hard work. Your projects should be an organisational priority that aligns with your Strategic Plan and objectives. Including a sound budget, needs data and detailed outputs and outcomes (check out our previous blog to learn the difference).

Know your Key Messages

The Key Messages document is your go-to document for writing grant applications and talking to funders. It positions your organisation and contains simple, easily digestible statements about who your organisation is and what you do. Prepare it now and update it every six months.

Research the funder

Who are they, what have they funded in the past? What is their average grant range? Does your project align with their funding objectives? What is the application process?

Call them to discuss your project

Do you maintain a central system to manage communication with funders? Has anyone else in your organisation spoken to this funder? Donor relationships should be coordinated and strategic. Make sure you check this before you pick up the phone. Then, call them to discuss your priority project. Explain the project needs and projected outcomes, listen to their feedback and highlight how your project aligns to their funding objectives. Listen to their advice and feedback. Sometimes the right decision, albeit the hardest, is to not proceed with an application if it just isn’t the right time.

Tell a story but balance head and heart

The EOI process may be different from other grant applications. The funder may ask you to email a single page outline of your project, or they may have a straightforward form with three or four questions. Your application may be more free form but make sure you support your story with facts. Emotive language has a place in a less formal application, but back it up with data that supports your approach.

Be prompt

Do not contact the funder if you don’t have time to apply immediately. If the funder has expressed interest in your organisation and project ensure you submit the EOI as soon as possible. Maintain the funders engagement and interest by being prompt in providing further information about the project.

For further information on establishing, developing and nurturing relationship with Funders, be sure to check out our FREE Podcast – Nurturing Relationships (Episode 5) 

CraigBlog CalmBeforeStormImage2